Ottawa County Parks and Recreation #2

A large portion of my stewardship work has been working with the Ottawa County goats. The goal of the goat program is to use the goats in selectively fenced in areas to eat the invasive plants and clear thickets of undesirable plants such as poison ivy, honeysuckle, and oriental bittersweet that block access to the river from the trail at Riverside park. Usually, the goats do their job with minimal issues, however, on this particular day the goats decided to be difficult.

One goat named licorice decided that she wanted to stick her head into the fence that separates the food for the baby goats and the food for the adult goats. The fence posts were far enough apart that she could get her head in, yet not out. Meanwhile, she was bleating like she was dying–which she was not. She was merely stuck. Despite this fact my boss was panicking trying to figure out how to get the goats head out of the fence. She tried several ways to get her head out to no avail. After several unsuccessful attempts to free the goat, she decided to go get a bucket of water to try and lubricate her head to make it easier to pull out. I was left in charge of the goats. She walked out of sight for merely a second and the goats decided to no longer behave.

The largest and only male goat, Johnny, decided he wanted to mount Licorice while she had her head stuck in the fence. I, however, disagreed with this as it would have pushed her body and neck down and possibly seriously injured her neck. I hastily decided to kick Johnny away from Licorice and stop him from mounting her. He did not like this. Immediately, he reared up and kicked his hooves to try and intimidate me before he would ram into me. Before he could ram me, I kicked his chest and knocked him over. He stammered back to position and reared again. Once more I kicked him down. A third time he staggered up into a reared position and I kicked him down. Finally, he slowly walked over to me and laid at my feet. He nuzzled his head against my leg and decided that I won the contest of strength. Shortly after, my boss returned with the water and we used it to slide Licorice’s head out of the bars. She ran to her babies to make sure they were alright and started eating like nothing had happened.

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